Weekly Feature

2018-02-08 / Front Page

Erie County Health confirms case of hepatitis A

by AMY ROBB Editor

The Erie County Department of Health confirmed a case of hepatitis A on Tuesday in an individual who is employed as a food handler at two different locations in Erie County, according to County Executive Mark Poloncarz and county Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.

The individual worked at Al-E-Oops Restaurant, 5389 Genesee St. in Lancaster, and Brookdale Williamsville Senior Living Community, 6076 Main St. in Amherst.

Customers who consumed food prepared at Al-E-Oops from Jan. 20 to 23 and Jan. 27 to 30 may have been exposed to hepatitis A, according to the Health Department.

Residents, staff and visitors who consumed food at Brookdale from Jan. 16 to 31 may also have been exposed to hepatitis A.

Immunizations will be offered only to individuals who consumed food prepared at Al-E-Oops from Jan. 27 to 30. Providing immunization to people who consumed food products purchased before those dates will not be effective.

The hepatitis A vaccine, or immune globulin, is effective only within two weeks of exposure to the virus. Patrons who ate in Al-E-Oops restaurant on the specified dates and have not been previously vaccinated against hepatitis A should receive the hepatitis A vaccine, or immune globulin, as soon as possible.

“While we believe the risk to the public is low, hepatitis A is a serious infection,” said Burstein in a statement released this afternoon.

“As a precaution, anyone who consumed food produced at Al-E-Oops between Jan. 20 and Jan. 23 are advised to monitor themselves and their families for symptoms for 50 days since those products were consumed,” Burstein said. “The same goes for individuals who dined at Brookdale Williamsville Senior Living Community between the dates of Jan. 16 and Jan. 22.”

There is no ongoing risk of infection associated with either Al-E-Oops or Brookdale, according to the information from the county.

Both sites have been cleaned, inspected and approved as safe to operate by the county Department of Health Environmental Public Health Sanitarians or the state Department of Health.

“The owners of Al-E-Oops are first concerned for our co-worker and our patrons. We hope and expect that he will recover quickly and fully, and no one else who worked at or visited our restaurant will contract this disease,” a release from the restaurant said.

“As our county leaders said, there is only a very small chance that people can catch the illness due to this potential exposure. We have and will continue to cooperate with all health officials. And, as always, we will operate our restaurant to the highest health and safety standards, as we have — without any similar prior incident — since we opened in 1984.”

Hepatitis A immunization provided after an exposure can often prevent illness from occurring, but only if it is provided within two weeks since the last exposure.

Residents, visitors and staff at Brookdale Williamsville should contact the facility for more information about whether they should receive a hepatitis A vaccination. The county and state departments of health are working with management at Brookdale to provide prophylaxis directly to residents, staff and visitors.

Hepatitis A signs and symptoms typically do not appear until the individual has had the virus for a few weeks. These symptoms can be similar to those of a “flu-like” illness and may include fatigue, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, abdominal pain or discomfort, dark urine, joint pain, clay-colored bowel movements and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).

For more information, contact the following organizations:

•Erie County Department of Health, www.erie.gov/health or call 858-2929

•New York State Department of Health, www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/hepatitis/

•Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/A/aFAQ.htm

•Vaccine Information Sheet: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hep-a.html

•Mayo Clinic: www.may oclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-a/basics/definition/con-20022163

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